Michigan Police Department Facing Civil Lawsuit
(MI) – The Pittsfield Township Police Department is being sued by the mother of a 10-year old child. On April 16, Benjamin Whitfield was in a vehicle with his father when they came across police officers working another call. The officers directed Benjamin’s father to go in one direction. Instead, he went a different direction, going down a one-way street. Police then chased the fleeing vehicle which supposedly went as fast as 100 mph.
Benjamin’s father pulled into the parking lot of a Kroger grocery store. At least six police officers ran to the car with weapons drawn. 10-year old Benjamin Whitfield got out of the passenger side of the car with his hands in the air. He did have a cell phone in his hands, but it’s obvious the officer knew that’s what he had since the officer told him to put the cell phone down. He then handcuffs the terrified child.
Better Police Training Needed to Combat Poor Judgment
It doesn’t seem likely that the police manual encourages officers to draw down on 10-year old children. But it probably doesn’t say you shouldn’t. This is most likely a judgment call depending on the situation. That means a person should apply common sense. That didn’t happen here.
The child was not the person driving the vehicle. There is no way the child had any control over the situation. Basically, he’s a victim. Benjamin is already out of the vehicle with his hands in the air when the un-named police officer arrives. There is another officer who was already there, who obviously recognizes that the child is no threat. That officer stays focused on Benjamin’s father as Benjamin moves away from the vehicle.
Even though the child is not a threat, the un-named police officer draws his weapon and points it at him. He immediately yells at Benjamin to put the phone down, showing he knows it’s a phone, not a weapon of any kind. Then the police officer continues to track Benjamin with his gun, giving contradicting commands. First he tells him to sit, then to lay down, then put the phone down, then stand up, all within seconds.
Why in the hell should the child have to lay down? What threat is he? Why is a 10-year old boy being treated like a criminal? After Benjamin stands up, the police officer handcuffs him. I can’t hear what the child says, but the officer says, “That’s fine. These come off just as easy.”
Lawsuit Focuses on Emotional Trauma
Does the officer think Black people don’t see how often police shoot and kill them? Benjamin was terrified. And the police officer thinks it’s fine to handcuff an unarmed child? How can he not realize that he is traumatizing a child? Does he think Black children are so used to getting handcuffed all the time that it’s no big deal for them?
The police officer doesn’t seem like he’s a bad person, but his actions after the fact, don’t justify what he did. He treated a child, who was a victim, like a criminal. His poor judgment was practically criminal.
Benjamin’s mother, Makia Dixson, said he was an outgoing child, but now he doesn’t want to leave the house. All he wants to do is stay in his room and play video games. That’s trauma and trauma is a real injury. “Every time he sees the police, he gets scared,” she said. “He’s not gonna ever be able to trust a police officer.”
I can’t help but wonder if it had been a white family, and the pretty blonde haired little daughter got out of the passenger side of the vehicle, if they would have made her put her hands in the air, much less any of the rest that was done to Benjamin.